Romania left party ousts its own PM
Social Democrats accuse him of not carrying out reforms
23 June, 2017
Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu was last Wednesday forced from power by his own party, in a no-confidence vote in parliament, news wires reported. He lost the censure motion by 241 votes to 10 after beeing at the post for less than six months. His left-wing Social Democrat party (PSD) accused him of failing to carry out necessary economic reforms. The decision by his own party and its liberal ALDE allies was the first time in Romanian politics when the governing coalition filed the no-confidence motion against its own government.
The ouster's main reason, according to analysts, was that the PM was involved in a power struggle with party's influential leader Liviu Dragnea, who was barred from office after a fraud conviction. Dragnea criticised his rival's performance in government last Wednesday, accusing him of failing to push through “the most ambitious programme since 1989”. Some commentators have argued that his removal was more about relaxing measures aimed at tackling corruption.
Both Dragnea and Grindeanu addressed the parliament before the vote. While Grindeanu said that he didn't understand why this vote was needed, as the government he led did a good job so far, Dragnea said that, although the party never wanted to reach this point, the government did its job “quite well”, but this “quite well” is not enough.
The PSD won elections in December only a year after losing power. Within weeks, protests erupted across the country over a decree seen as weakening anti-corruption measures in one of the EU most corrupt Member States. Dragnea, while being the power behind the left-wing party's throne, cannot take power because he was given a suspended jail term for vote rigging and also faces trial for alleged abuse of office. His first choice as PM, Sevil Shhaideh, was turned down by President Klaus Iohannis last December. A new nominee from the ruling coalition will also have to be approved by the president.
In February the EU warned the government in Bucharest against backtracking in its efforts against corruption. Although Grindeanu withdrew the decree, the crisis weakened the new government and soured relations between the PM and Dragnea. Romania's justice system has been under EU scrutiny ever since the country's accession in 2007. In its most recent report this year, the EU's executive praised Romania's anti-corruption agency (DNA) but warned that the fight against corruption was under serious threat from political and media atttacks
The Grindeanu government survived a no-confidence vote in early February, less than a month after taking power. The motion was filed by the opposition parties after the cabinet decided to adopt an emergency measures to change the Criminal Code.